2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

Let’s take a look at the longest win streaks in the NFL right now. The Patriots (guess they are officially back) have won seven straight. The Chiefs (turns out they aren’t out of title contention yet) are winners of five in a row. As are the Dolphins (wait, is that right?) Washington (is this a typo) has won *checks notes* four straight games.

As the old saying goes, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. Surely, all of those teams would have preferred stronger starts to the year, but New England is now the top seed in the AFC while Kansas City leads the AFC West. Washington is currently in a wildcard spot and Miami is 1.5 games back of one. Just a reminder it is important not to overreact to September football. This is setting up a very interesting final few weeks of the NFL season.

Elsewhere, we had the Lions finally winning a game and the return of Minshew Mania! Here is how all 32 teams stack up through 13 weeks.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 10-2 (Last Week: 1)
Won 33-22 at Chicago
One of the quietest 10-win teams in recent memory. Arizona welcomed Kyler Murray back to the starting lineup. He marked the occasion with four touchdowns in a comfortable win for the Cardinals. Not to be outdone, the defense came up with four interceptions of Andy Dalton to set the offense up for success. This team still has to prove itself in the postseason, but it is very possible the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC could run through the desert.

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2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9-3 (Last Week: 2)
Won 30-17 at Atlanta
Tom Brady stays undefeated against the Falcons in his career. The Patriots did not play them very often, but that is still wildly impressive. Brady put up some huge numbers, marred only by a pick-six that kept the Falcons in the game just before halftime. Thankfully, the defense stepped up in the second half and shut out Atlanta over the final 30 minutes of action. Tampa still feels like it is ironing out some kinks. It is certainly scary to think they could get even better, but maybe a little worrying that we still see some uneven play in December.

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3. Green Bay Packers: 9-3 (Last Week: 3)
Bye Week
Few teams needed a bye week as badly as the Packers did. David Bahktiari, Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith are in line to practice this week. Those are the three high-impact players that will only raise the ceiling for a Green Bay team that is 9-2 with Aaron Rodgers in the starting lineup. Speaking of Rodgers, a week off likely gave him some time to rest his fractured toe. Same goes for Aaron Jones, who played in limited action against the Rams in Week 12. If this team can get healthy, look out.

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4. New England Patriots: 9-4 (Last Week: 4)
Won 14-10 at Buffalo
That was about as ugly as it gets, but the Patriots put on a masterclass in 1940s football. Mac Jones attempted just three passes in a slugfest that featured a lot of bend, don’t break defensive possessions. With gusting winds that made kicking and throwing very difficult, Bill Belichick leaned into his run game. The plan very nearly fell apart, but great red zone defense and a missed field goal in the fourth quarter saw New England keep its top seed in the AFC.

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5. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-4 (Last Week: 5)
Won 22-9 vs. Denver
Defense wins championships and it really looks like the Chiefs have a great defense right now. Kansas City held Denver out of the end zone for the first 55 minutes of action. Daniel Sorenson even got on the board with a defensive touchdown. Patrick Mahomes is still struggling to get on track, managing just 184 passing yards, no touchdown passes and an interception. He did punch in a rushing touchdown, but these are not the performances we have become accustomed to seeing from Mahomes.

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6. Dallas Cowboys: 8-4 (Last Week: 8)
Won 27-17 at New Orleans
Dallas picked up an important win to maintain a two-game lead in the NFC East. Following three losses in a four-game stretch, this felt like a must-win for the Cowboys. It certainly wasn’t the cleanest game we’ve ever seen from the offense. Dak Prescott threw a costly pick and the team went 2-for-13 on third down conversion opportunities. The defense covered up any issues though with four interceptions. Dan Quinn is running away with the Assistant Coach of the Year award given the turnaround for Dallas’ defense this season.

7. Los Angeles Rams: 8-4 (Last Week: 9)
Won 37-7 vs. Jacksonville
Nothing like a get-right game against the Jaguars to help ease the pain. Los Angeles dominated Jacksonville in all three phases. Odell Beckham Jr. looked much more comfortable in the offense and got in the end zone again. The only concern was a brutal hit Matt Stafford took that briefly knocked him out the game. Rumors have persisted that Stafford has not been healthy for weeks. Seeing him take shots like the one Roy Robertson-Harris laid on him is worrying. If Stafford goes down, this team can kiss its already questionable championship hopes goodbye.

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8. Indianapolis Colts: 7-6 (Last Week: 10)
Won 31-0 at Houston
For the second straight week, the Colts scored 31 points. However, this time around, they didn’t give up any points. Beating the Texans is far from something to highlight on your resume, unless you are the Jets. Credit Indianapolis for not playing down to the competition. While winning games is the most important thing, it would be good to see Frank Reich conserve Jonathan Taylor a bit more, especially in blowouts. He had 32 carries, playing well into the fourth quarter despite a three-score lead. Deon Jackson and Nyheim Hines eventually took over in the backfield, but keeping Taylor fresh for the stretch run would be a very wise move.

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9. Baltimore Ravens: 8-4 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 20-19 at Pittsburgh
If that ball was six inches closer to Mark Andrews, we would be talking about what a great decision this was from John Harbaugh to go for the win rather than play for overtime. I think it was the right move. Heading to overtime is literally a coin flip. It was a tough break. However, there are still some red flags. Pittsburgh sacked Lamar Jackson seven times. Comparatively, the Ravens managed just one sack of their own. This offense has a lot that needs resolving.

10. Los Angeles Chargers: 7-5 (Last Week: 12)
Won 41-22 at Cincinnati
Los Angeles put the struggles from Week 12 behind them with a big bounce-back win over the Bengals. Justin Herbert looked sharp with over 300 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. Meanwhile, the defense was very opportunistic, forcing four turnovers, including a scoop and score from Tevaughn Campbell. Ball security was an issue for the Chargers as well though. Herbert threw an interception while Austin Ekeler coughed it up twice. Still, this was an important win to keep pace in the AFC West and the playoff race.

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11. Cincinnati Bengals: 7-5 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 41-22 vs. Los Angeles
Will they or won’t they? Cincinnati continues to struggle with consistency. The Bengals have yet to win more than two games in a row. Every time it feels like they are beginning to build momentum, a somewhat surprising result brings them back down to Earth. Turnovers were a major issue as was pass protection. Joe Burrow was sacked six times and was clearly pressing throughout the game. All in all, it was not a good enough performance from the Bengals, who missed out on a chance to go atop the AFC North.

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12. Buffalo Bills: 7-5 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 14-10 vs. New England
New England ran it down Buffalo’s throat and the Bills could not reciprocate. Josh Allen was the team’s leading rusher with 39 of the team’s 99 yards. Meanwhile, the Patriots racked up 222 yards on the ground. While that is far from ideal, the more concerning aspect was the offense’s inability to convert in the red zone. A missed field goal and a failed fourth-down play limited Buffalo to just three points on three trips inside the 20 in the second half. A daunting trip to Tampa Bay is up next.

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13. Tennessee Titans: 8-4 (Last Week: 13)
Bye Week
Did the Titans find a way to reinvent themselves during their bye week? Without Derrick Henry and a pair of banged up star receivers, Tennessee struggled mightily heading into its week off. Julio Jones could be back, but Ryan Tannehill cannot carry this team. His four-interception performance against the Texans proved that. All that said, Tennessee has one of the easiest closing schedules. The Jaguars, Steelers, 49ers, Dolphins and Texans remain. Just beating the Jaguars and Texans should get the Titans into the postseason.

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14. Pittsburgh Steelers: 6-5-1 (Last Week: 18)
Won 20-19 vs. Baltimore
This feels like a big move up for a one-point win, but everyone around the Steelers seemingly lost this weekend. Pittsburgh did just enough to pull off the victory. It might have been a bit of a lucky break that saw them hold on, but they did a lot to create that luck, if you will. The Steelers had seven sacks and nine tackles for loss. They also scored the go-ahead touchdown and converted on the all-important two-point conversion that put them up by seven with less than two minutes to play. Take the wins however you can get them.

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15. San Francisco 49ers: 6-6 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 30-23 at Seattle
The 49ers hit a speed bump. Maybe they were a little guilty of underestimating the Seahawks after Russell Wilson and company had floundered leading into this game. Jimmy Garoppolo tossed two interceptions while the offense managed just 2.8 yards per carry. Seattle gave San Francisco plenty of chances to win this game. The 49ers held a 23-14 lead at halftime, but their second half drives ended in a fumble, a safety, an interception, two punts and a turnover on downs. That is not a winning formula.

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16. Cleveland Browns 6-6 (Last Week: 19)
Bye Week
Suddenly, the outlook for the Browns does not seem so bleak. Losses by the Ravens and Bengals keep Cleveland within striking distance in the division. Plus, losses by the Bills, Raiders and Broncos keeps them firmly in the wildcard chase. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt hopefully back at full strength and Baker Mayfield rested up, the Browns’ offense should be much more competitive. A rematch with the Ravens awaits.

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17. Miami Dolphins: 6-7 (Last Week: 20)
Won 20-9 vs. New York
As I talked about earlier, this is quite the turnaround from Miami. Tua Tagovailoa is settling in nicely to the offense and taking care of the football. It certainly helped to face Mike Glennon instead of Daniel Jones, but this was still a pretty strong showing by the ‘Fins defense. Now if only Miami could run the ball consistently. The Dolphins get a week off before looking to continue their hot streak in a matchup with the Jets.

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18. Philadelphia Eagles: 6-7 (Last Week: 21)
Won 33-18 at New York
Minshew Mania is back! Gardner Minshew made his first start for the Eagles and did not disappoint. Granted, it was against the Jets, but the former Jaguars quarterback was hyper efficient and provided a different element to the Eagles offense. He got tons of help from Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell, who combined for 229 yards of offense and a touchdown. Dallas Goedert was heavily involved in the offense as well. Nick Sirianni has already said that Jalen Hurts is still the starter. Hurts could return following the bye week, but if he struggles, Philly fans will be clamoring for Minshew to see more action.

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19. Washington: 6-6 (Last Week: 23)
Won 17-15 at Las Vegas
I don’t know if winning 17-15 games is very sustainable, but Washington repeated the feat this week. Hometown hero Brian Johnson won it with a go-ahead 48-yard field goal in the final minute. It hasn’t been too pretty, but Washington is finding ways to win. It is far from likely, but with five divisional games remaining on the schedule, Washington controls its own fate.

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20. Las Vegas Raiders: 6-6 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 17-15 vs. Washington
Another winnable game blown by the Raiders. Las Vegas now has losses to Washington, Chicago and the New York Giants. All three have felt like missed opportunities. Winning even two of them would have the Raiders tied atop the AFC West. Instead, Vegas is tied with Cleveland and Denver for 10th in the conference. Unfortunately, the Chiefs are next on the schedule.

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21. Denver Broncos: 6-6 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 22-9 at Kansas City
Fresh off a win over the Chargers, the Broncos absolutely fell flat against the Chiefs. Maybe a road win was too much to hope for, but three points through the first three and a half quarters is a disappointing output from the offense. Costly turnovers from Teddy Bridgewater were the difference in the game. If nothing else, this offered a clear reminder that the Broncos will be in the market for a quarterback this offseason.

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22. Minnesota Vikings: 5-7 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 29-27 at Detroit
It was bound to happen to someone eventually, but being the first team to lose to the Lions this year still stings quite a bit. Keep in mind, this team beat a mostly full-strength Packers side just two weeks ago. The offense got off to a sluggish start to life without Dalvin Cook, managing just six points in the first half. Minnesota stormed back to lead 27-23, but the defense wilted in the critical moments, giving up a walk-off touchdown. Turn back up the heat on Mike Zimmer’s seat.

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23. New Orleans Saints: 5-7 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 27-17 vs. Dallas
Things look rough for the Saints right now. Taysom Hill finally got back on the field at quarterback and provided a spark with his mobility. Unfortunately, he suffered a similar injury to Russell Wilson, who missed a month with a torn ligament in his finger. Hill threw four interceptions, ending any hopes of upending the Cowboys. New Orleans has now lost five straight and show little sign of turning things around. It will be interesting to see if Sean Payton looks to bring in a free-agent quarterback.

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24. New York Giants: 4-8 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 20-9 at Miami
So maybe the quarterback isn’t the root cause of all the issues for the Giants offense. Mike Glennon looked mediocre, but didn’t get much protection either. He took eight hits and will begin this week in the concussion protocol. Now, it looks like New York will be starting Jake Fromm against the Chargers in Week 14. On the bright side, the Giants seem to be capable of running the ball. New York averaged 5.4 yards per carry. If Freddie Kitchens can establish the run early in the game and stay within reach, that will take a lot of pressure off the young quarterback.

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25. Atlanta Falcons: 5-7 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 30-17 vs. Tampa Bay
Stat to know: Atlanta has a point differential of -113 this season. Detroit has a point differential of -116. That is the sort of company the Falcons are keeping. Matt Ryan and the offense moved the ball up and down the field, but consistently stalled when it mattered most. Atlanta scored a touchdown on its first drive and then managed a field goal the rest of the game. This team is technically not far out of the playoff picture, but the Falcons do not feel anywhere near the playoff conversation.

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26. Carolina Panthers: 5-7 (Last Week: 26)
Bye Week
In perhaps some of the most shocking and under the radar news of the weekend, the Panthers fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Sure, the Panthers offense has not lit the world on fire, but he is working with Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker and Cam Newton. Christian McCaffrey has played in just seven of the team’s 12 games so far. Carolina has also dropped 22 passes this year, second most in the NFL. Brady was considered one of the brightest young offensive minds in football. He was the architect behind LSU’s record-setting attack in 2019, when the Tigers won a national championship. If this was a reaction to Newton’s 5-of-21 passing performance against the Dolphins in Week 12, I think that is a huge mistake. Trying to find someone to build an offense around Newton is incredibly shortsighted. Brady will likely land on his feet. He will be a highly sought after offensive coordinator in the league and could be in the mix for a return to the college ranks.

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27. Seattle Seahawks: 4-8 (Last Week: 28)
Won 30-23 vs. San Francisco
While it might be too little too late for this season, this felt like a crucial win for the Seahawks. Ideally, this allows Russell Wilson to build some momentum and get this team trending in the right direction. Seattle still has a host of problems that need solving, namely its run game. Travis Homer ripped off a huge touchdown run on a fake punt, but that one play accounted for half of the team’s rushing yards on the afternoon. Neither Rashaad Penny nor Adrian Peterson could really get rolling. Shane Waldron has a chance to prove he can scheme some ways to spark the ground game.

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28. Chicago Bears: 4-8 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 33-22 vs. Arizona
QB1 had a rough day. Andy Dalton threw four interceptions in an embarrassing performance for the Bears offense. Somehow, Chicago did manage 22 points, but the defense simply could not overcome that many turnovers and short-field situations. Matt Nagy’s days in the Windy City are numbered.

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29. New York Jets: 3-9 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 33-18 vs. Philadelphia
For one fleeting moment, it felt like the Jets were turning the corner. New York scored three touchdowns in the first half (even if they missed two field goals and failed on a two-point conversion attempt). There were some special teams miscues away from being tied at halftime. Instead, the Jets were shut out in the second half. Their four drives in the half resulted in a punt, an interception, a turnover on downs and the end of the game. Focusing on the positive is that Zach Wilson looked a bit better this week. As long as he continues to improve, results do not matter.

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30. Detroit Lions: 1-10-1 (Last Week: 32)
Won 29-27 vs. Minnesota
When is the ticker tape parade??? Detroit reacted a bit like it had won the Super Bowl. While winning one meaningless regular season game is not really cause for celebration usually, this a huge weight off Dan Campbell and his entire team. The Lions had come agonizingly close on several occasions this year. This ensures that this Detroit side will not join the infamous group of winless teams. Who knows, maybe Campbell can even build off this. I wouldn’t consider it likely, but I also wouldn’t want to be the Broncos this week.

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31. Houston Texans: 2-10 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 31-0 vs. Indianapolis
Congratulations to the Texans for being the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention! Houston managed 141 yards of offense on an ungodly 2.8 yards per play. Tyrod Taylor suffered another injury as well, which means Davis Mills takes the reins again. Things are going to get much worse in Houston before they get better.

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32. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-10 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 37-7 at Los Angeles
It’s days like Sunday where I am left to sit around and wonder how on Earth the Jaguars managed to beat the Bills.

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 13

For the first time in what feels like forever, there is a bit of stability at the top of the NFL hierarchy. The top five teams in my power rankings all stay the same. After that, it is the typical chaos we’ve become accustomed to this season. Losses by the Rams and Cowboys shakeup the top 10 while wins by the 49ers, Raiders and Broncos completely change the middle of the pack.

We are now through 12 weeks of action and the playoff picture is starting to crystalize. The push for the playoffs starts now with December football set to begin. Here is how the league stacks up at this point.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 9-2 (Last Week: 1)
Bye Week
For the first time in a while, there is no change atop the power rankings. Arizona had the week off and used it to get Kyler Murray healthy. The Cardinals QB let everyone know he was ready to return with a quick Marvel-themed tweet on Sunday. There is a lot of speculation as to what the tweet meant given that it was on the heels of his former college coach heading to USC and rumors that his current coach could be his replacement in Norman. Either way, Murray should be back in Week 13 for a matchup with the Bears.

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2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-3 (Last Week: 2)
Won 38-31 at Indianapolis
It is tough to know which side of this game to focus on. On one hand, Leonard Fournette offered a preview of Playoff Lenny much earlier than expected with four touchdowns and Rob Gronkowski looked fantastic in his return to the lineup. However, Tampa also gave up 31 points and needed a late drive from the offense to win the game. Even with those defensive struggles, the Buccaneers racked up five takeaways, which was the difference in the game.

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3. Green Bay Packers: 9-3 (Last Week: 3)
Won 36-28 vs. Los Angeles
The Packers continue to impress despite significant injury issues on both sides of the ball. Yosh Nijman took over at left tackle with Elgton Jenkins lost for the season. Rasul Butler continues to make huge plays for a secondary missing Jaire Alexander. It certainly helps to have Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and A.J. Dillon to power the offense while Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage and Eric Stokes continue to improve on defense. Green Bay is incredibly talented and should only get better as key players get healthy down the stretch.

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4. New England Patriots: 8-4 (Last Week: 4)
Won 36-13 vs. Tennessee
Remember the good old days when the Patriots were 2-4? That feels like a lifetime ago now as New England has ripped off six straight wins since then. Mac Jones is playing very well and the run game is delivering consistently. Tennessee looked lost on offense for the majority of this game, which is a testament to how well the Pats defense has fared during this stretch. Even though the Titans rumbled for 270 yards on 6.9 yards per carry, Bill Belichick’s side forced four turnovers to make the majority of that yardage all for naught. A massive meeting with the Bills on Monday Night Football awaits.

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5. Kansas City Chiefs: 7-4 (Last Week: 5)
Bye Week
It was a good week for the Chiefs. Getting a chance to rest up is always nice. The Chargers losing to the Broncos to ensure KC stays atop the AFC West is a nice bonus. While it certainly feels like this team is back on track, it has been the defense doing most of the heavy lifting. Kansas City has scored more than 20 points just once since Week 6. Patrick Mahomes has settled down a bit, but has yet to reclaim his MVP form. Maybe Clyde Edwards-Helaire will provide a jolt after getting the bye week to fully recover from his injury.

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6. Baltimore Ravens: 8-3 (Last Week: 10)
Won 16-10 vs. Cleveland
It is a miracle Baltimore won this game. Lamar Jackson threw four interceptions and the Ravens managed just 3.1 yards per carry. The offense was clearly not at its best. Thankfully, the Browns offense wasn’t either. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for 36 yards on the ground while Baker Mayfield continued to hobble around the field. Baltimore’s defense made his life miserable all night long, holding Cleveland to just 262 yards of offense. It would be reassuring to see the Ravens find their offensive spark again, but it is important to win even ugly sometimes, too.

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7. Cincinnati Bengals: 7-4 (Last Week: 14)
Won 41-10 vs. Pittsburgh
For the second time this season, Cincinnati dispatched Pittsburgh with relative ease. Joe Mixon quite literally ran all over the Steelers to the tune of 165 yards and a pair of scores. It was a showcase game for Tee Higgins as well. Forcing three Ben Roethlisberger turnovers and holding the team to just 54 yards rushing also helps. The Bengals remain one game back of the Ravens for the top spot in the AFC North.

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8. Dallas Cowboys: 7-4 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 36-33 vs. Las Vegas
Dallas is officially in trouble. Losing three of four is a worrying sign for a team that cannot seem to string together complete performances. It wasn’t the offense that struggled despite missing Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Instead, the defense surrendered over 500 yards of offense. Prescott didn’t get a ton of help from the run game either, which averaged 3.2 yards per carry. The Cowboys have gone from thinking about earning a first-round bye to ensuring they can win the NFC East.

9. Los Angeles Rams: 7-4 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 36-28 at Green Bay
Turns out the week off did not accomplish much. Los Angeles still looked disjointed on offense and overwhelmed on defense. Matt Stafford once again looked outmatched against a quality opponent. I’ve been questioning Stafford since 2015. All of the same issues I had with him as a player then continue to show up now. It is starting to become clear that the Rams cannot rely on him to carry them in big moments. Sean McVay is going to need to find a way to take some pressure off his big offseason acquisition.

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10. Indianapolis Colts: 6-6 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 38-31 vs. Tampa Bay
There was a lot to like about how the Colts played against the Buccaneers. The offense moved the ball down the field with ease, both on the ground and through the air. Tom Brady had a fairly quiet day, at least by his standards. The defense even forced two turnovers. Unfortunately, Indianapolis coughed it up five times, gave up four touchdowns to Leonard Fournette and struggled to protect Carson Wentz. This team is closer to truly competing for a title than it has been in a few years, but there are still some major holes left to patch.

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11. Buffalo Bills: 7-4 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-6 at New Orleans
Buffalo picked up an important win to get things back on track. Granted, it was against a Saints team that is headed in the wrong direction, but you have to win the games on your schedule. Plus, the Bills did it convincingly. Unfortunately, it came at a high cost. Tre’Davious White tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. One of the best cover corners in the league, Buffalo’s defense looks significantly worse heading into Week 13 than it did Week 12.

12. Los Angeles Chargers: 6-5 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 28-13 at Denver
Los Angeles keeps taking one step forward only to take one step back. This team is stuck in neutral following another lackluster showing in a winnable game. Perhaps it is the byproduct of having a young team with a rookie head coach. A big step to getting back on track will be rediscovering the run game. Austin Ekeler only had 31 rushing yards on 12 carries. That is not a recipe for success in the NFL.

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13. Tennessee Titans: 8-4 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 36-13 at New England
The tailspin in Nashville continues. Tennessee is simply too banged up to compete with the league’s elite teams right now. Ryan Tannehill looked pedestrian at best in a rocky performance. That might actually be underselling how bad Tannehill’s numbers were in this one, as he finished with 93 passing yards and 11 of his 21 passes completed. He got a huge boost from the ground game, which racked up 270 yards. Unfortunately, four turnovers and poor tackling on defense made any hopes of halting the Patriots obsolete. A much-need bye week is up next.

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14. San Francisco 49ers: 6-5 (Last Week: 19)
Won 34-26 vs. Minnesota
This was a litmus test for the 49ers. After an impressive upset of the Rams, it was hard to feel like the 49ers did much to prove themselves in a lopsided win over the Jaguars. Handling the Vikings, who were fresh off a win over the Packers, inspires a lot more confidence. With four wins in its past five games led by a resurgent ground attack, San Francisco deserves to be in the playoff conversation.

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15. Las Vegas Raiders: 6-5 (Last Week: 20)
Won 36-33 at Dallas
This changes things considerably. Following an underwhelming loss to the Bengals coming off a bye week, the Raiders seemed poised for another second-half fade. Instead, Las Vegas rebounds in spectacular fashion with a road win in Dallas on Thanksgiving. Derek Carr played very well and Josh Jacobs picked up some important yards, including a touchdown. Suddenly the Raiders are back in the mix for a wildcard spot and the AFC West title.

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16. Minnesota Vikings: 5-6 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 34-26 at San Francisco
Not quite how you want to follow up a statement win. Kirk Cousins did not play well and the running game struggled before Dalvin Cook exited with what seems to be a serious injury. Minnesota’s defense also had no answer for Elijah Mitchell or Deebo Samuel. The Vikings missed a golden opportunity to make up some ground in the wildcard race. Instead, Minnesota now finds itself in a log jam and with one of its best players, Patrick Peterson, on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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17. Denver Broncos: 6-5 (Last Week: 22)
Won 28-13 vs. Los Angeles
The AFC West just got very interesting. A win by the Broncos creates a three-way tie for second, as the Raiders and Chargers are also one game back of the Chiefs for the division lead. Denver has a two-headed monster in the backfield with Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams combining for 199 yards in this one. Pat Surtain II helped seal things with a pick-six of Justin Herbert. Something to watch though will be the health of Teddy Bridgewater. He battled through a shin injury in Week 12. If he can’t suit up in Week 13, the Broncos could be in a lot of trouble.

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18. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-5-1 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 41-10 at Cincinnati
For the second straight week, the Steelers allowed 41 points. That is already a problem. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh also scored 27 fewer points in this loss. Ben Roethlisberger was under pressure too often and compounded that issue with three turnovers, including a pick-six. What the Steelers desperately need to do is run the football. Unfortunately, they won’t commit to running the ball consistently, and even when they do, it is not effective. Najee Harris finished with 2.9 yards per carry in Cincinnati. The playoffs are not out of reach, but it is hard to imagine this team making it there without a serious turnaround in play.

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19. Cleveland Browns 6-6 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 16-10 at Baltimore
Some serious questions need to be asked of Kevin Stefanski. The Browns forced four turnovers, yet failed to generate basically anything positive on offense and lost the time of possession battle by a wide margin. That is almost an unfathomable combination. Stefanski abandoned the run game too soon, as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for just 15 carries. The fact that Cleveland could not find a way to win this game despite such a strong defensive performance is a huge indictment of this offense.

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20. Miami Dolphins: 5-7 (Last Week: 23)
Won 33-10 vs. Carolina
Miami has quietly won four straight and Tua Tagovailoa seems to be rounding into form. He was outrageously efficient against the Panthers, completing 27-of-31 passes 236 yards and a touchdown. Phillip Lindsay also provided an instant boost to the ground game in tandem with Myles Gaskin. Following a seven-game losing streak, the Dolphins are squarely back in the wildcard conversation. Their next four games are against the Giants, Jets, Saints and Titans. Miami’s hot streak may yet continue.

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21. Philadelphia Eagles: 5-7 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 13-7 at New York
This was a game the Eagles really needed to win. A win would get them back to .500 and would have put them into the final wildcard spot at the moment given the other results of Week 12. Instead, Jalen Hurts threw the game away, literally. Three interceptions and a completion percentage south of 50 is tough to overcome, even when you run for over 200 yards as a team. Also, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times: the Eagles should have drafted Justin Jefferson over Jalen Reagor.

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22. New Orleans Saints: 5-6 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 31-6 vs. Buffalo
The Saints offense has ground to a halt. No Michael Thomas. No Alvin Kamara. No Jameis Winston. This unit is about as underwhelming as could be at this point. Taysom Hill is apparently still not healthy enough to play quarterback despite being on the active roster for the past few games. Sean Payton has been able to make it work over the previous two seasons when Drew Brees went down for stretches. He is going to need to conjure some magic down the stretch to get the Saints into the postseason.

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23. Washington: 5-6 (Last Week: 24)
Won 17-15 vs. Seattle
The list of teams heating up after a poor start is beginning to grow. Washington has now won three in a row. This was far from the most convincing victory of all time, but Taylor Heinicke and company toughed it out in a gritty performance. A heavy dose of the run game while shutting down Seattle’s offense for the majority of the game is a repeatable formula with the talent Ron Rivera’s side has. Things will get very interesting with five of their final six games coming against NFC East opponents.

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24. New York Giants: 4-7 (Last Week: 25)
Won 13-7 vs. Philadelphia
Firing Jason Garrett led to a win, although there was not much of an improvement on the offensive side of the ball. New York stumbled for a paltry 2.6 yards per carry while Daniel Jones barely eclipsed. However, the Giants did hang onto the ball while Jalen Hurts imploded with three interceptions. It would have been good to see Jones and company put the game away instead of relying on a Jalen Reagor drop. The red-hot Dolphins are next.

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25. Atlanta Falcons: 5-6 (Last Week: 26)
Won 21-14 at Jacksonville
How on Earth do the Falcons have five wins? Atlanta has a point differential of -103. Only the Jets, Texans and Jaguars are worse. Yet, the Falcons sit tied with Washington for the final wildcard spot in the NFC. That is simply ridiculous. Cordarelle Patterson put the team on his back to hold off Jacksonville and the defense played well enough against one of the worst offenses in the league. Things will get significantly tougher with a visit from the Buccaneers up next.

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26. Carolina Panthers: 5-7 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 33-10 at Miami
So, the Panthers offense has collapsed. Cam Newton played one of the worst games by a quarterback in NFL history while Carolina lost Christian McCaffrey for the season once again. Newton completed five of his 21 passes and posted a passer rating of 5.8. He was benched for P.J. Walker. On the flip side, Tua Tagovailoa picked apart the Panthers defense and this game was never even close. Things need to turn around quickly to save playoff hopes for the season.

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27. Chicago Bears: 4-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 16-14 at Detroit
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was really ugly most of the way. Andy Dalton was average at best. The run game managed a paltry 2.3 yards per carry. The under hit comfortably. In short, it was an early afternoon snooze fest. It would have been much better if this had been the second game so everyone could have gone into their food comas during this game instead. Still, it was a win, which likely saved Matt Nagy’s job for at least another week.

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28. Seattle Seahawks: 3-8 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 17-15 at Washington
It might be time to blow up this Seahawks team. It is hard to believe Seattle was in the postseason a year ago, winning 12 games and the NFC West. Right now, this team is getting dragged by some of the league’s basement dwellers. Russell Wilson looks nothing like the perennial Pro Bowler we are accustomed to watching. The Seahawks cannot run the ball either. Pete Carroll’s seat has to be getting very warm.

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29. New York Jets: 3-8 (Last Week: 31)
Won 21-14 at Houston
Picking up a road win is nice, but as a Jets fan, I would rather see this team lose while Zach Wilson impresses. New York’s rookie quarterback has been nothing short of horrible this season. Sure, his protection has not been great and his weapons are average at best, but his numbers are concerning. He is worst in the league in EPA per play, completion percentage over expected and success rate, which measure what percentage of plays finish with an EPA above zero. Results do not matter at this point for New York. Getting Wilson up to speed in the NFL and helping him grow over these final six games is what this year is all about.

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30. Houston Texans: 2-9 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 21-14 vs. New York
I cannot believe I’m about to write this, but I think the Texans defense played well enough to win this game. They sacked Zach Wilson four times and forced an interception. On the flip side though, Houston barely eclipsed 200 yards of offense, allowing five sacks of their own. It was an ugly game and one that the Texans likely could have won. Let’s be honest though. You didn’t miss anything. This game was terrible.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-9 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 21-14 vs. Atlanta
Jacksonville’s defense seems to be steadily improving. The Jags made Matt Ryan look subpar. Then again, he does that all on his own pretty frequently these days. However, the offense continues to be underwhelming at best. Trevor Lawrence is struggling week in and week out. The Jaguars have also yet to score more than 23 points this season. Urban Meyer might need to consider some offensive staffing changes if he wants to get the best out of his young quarterback.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-10-1 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 16-14 vs. Chicago
Kayvon Thibodeaux is going to look great in a Lions jersey. Detroit moves one step closer to securing his services with another heartbreaking loss. This team is not good, but there is no way that the Lions deserve to be 0-10-1. They could easily be 3-7-1 with a couple of breaks in their favor.

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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 12

Another week, another massive shake up. As is the norm in 2021, the top three teams in my power rankings from a week ago all lost. Colt McCoy outplayed Russell Wilson, the Chiefs defense dominated the Cowboys and the Texans upset the Titans. All in a week’s work for the NFL these days.

Once again, the top of these rankings, and the middle of these rankings for that matter, are murky at best. There are 19 teams with three to five losses on the season. That is ridiculous. Parity rules at this point and no one seems poised to dominate.

That being said, we are seeing a few teams heat up again as they prepare for the stretch run. The outlook for the Patriots, Chiefs and Colts feels very different than it did a few weeks ago. Same can be said for the Browns, Raiders and Bills. All in all, the NFL is a mess. Here is my best attempt at sorting it all out.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 9-2 (Last Week: 4)
Won 23-13 at Seattle
Arizona is 9-2, 6-0 on the road and 4-0 in the NFC West. Considering that we spent the entire offseason talking about how it would be the best division in football. Most importantly, they have won two of three games without Kyler Murray. Colt McCoy put on a show while the Cardinals defense shut down Russell Wilson. I’ve also guaranteed my No. 1 team cannot lose next week because Arizona is on a bye.

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2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-3 (Last Week: 5)
Won 30-10 vs. New York
Tampa Bay bounced back after back-to-back losses heading into their bye week. Tom Brady looked sharp, spreading the ball around to a nearly full complement of receivers. On the defensive side, the front seven bothered Daniel Jones all night long, recording a pair of interceptions in a dominant showing. This is the version of the Buccaneers we need to see going forward. They cannot afford too many more slip ups given how tight things are atop the NFC.

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3. Green Bay Packers: 8-3 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 34-31 at Minnesota
Excuses are much harder to come by this time around. Losing to the Chiefs on the road without Aaron Rodgers could be explained away. And while Rodgers is dealing with a toe injury, he still accounted for 385 yards and four touchdowns through the air. It was Green Bay’s defense that cost them as the secondary could not contain Justin Jefferson. With injuries continuing to pile up for the Packers, it is fair to be a bit worried about how much longer this team can stay in true title contention.

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4. New England Patriots: 7-4 (Last Week: 6)
Won 25-0 at Atlanta
The rest of the NFL should be at least a little bit scared given the recent run of results New England has cobbled together. Bill Belichick and company are winners are five straight and seem to be getting stronger, particularly defensively. It was the Patriots third straight game allowing seven points or fewer. They blanked the Falcons on Thursday night, racking up four sacks and four interceptions while only allowing 2.5 yards per carry. No one wants to face this team right now.

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5. Kansas City Chiefs: 7-4 (Last Week: 9)
Won 19-9 vs. Dallas
Are the Chiefs back to their old ways? It is hard to say. Honestly, this doesn’t feel like the 2020 Chiefs at all. They looked much better. While Patrick Mahomes is not quite back to MVP form, he is now taking care of the football. More importantly, the defense has done a complete 180 from its early-season performances. Chris Jones played a major role on Sunday with 3.5 sacks. Kansas City is unquestionably heating up though and should be a factor in the chase for the AFC’s top spot come playoff time.

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6. Dallas Cowboys: 7-3 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 19-9 at Kansas City
Which Cowboys offense is going to show up on Thanksgiving? Dallas’ offensive production has taken wild swings in recent weeks since Dak Prescott’s return to the starting lineup. The Cowboys laid an egg against the Broncos in Week 9, before shelling the Falcons in Week 10. That pendulum swung all the way back in Week 11 with an underwhelming outing in Kansas City. Held without a touchdown, Dallas could not protect Prescott or run the ball consistently. The Cowboys definitely have some questions to answer on offense.

7. Los Angeles Rams: 7-3 (Last Week: 7)
Bye Week
This bye week finally gives the Rams a chance to process adding Odell Beckham Jr. and losing Robert Woods. They had to rush OBJ’s preparations for their Monday Night Football matchup with the 49ers. A full week off should see this offense look a bit sharper. They will need to be. Los Angeles heads to Green Bay for a clash of top NFC teams. The Packers are coming off a loss and will be looking to rebound. A third straight loss for the Rams, even against a good team, is going to turn up the heat on Sean McVay and Matt Stafford.

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8. Tennessee Titans: 8-3 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 22-13 vs. Houston
Is Tennessee really the second-best team in the league? I asked this question last week and I got a resounding answer in Week 11. The Titans are clearly not the No. 2 team in the league. With A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, Ryan Tannehill imploded. The former Texas A&M quarterback threw four interceptions in an ugly game. Tennessee is still trying to find its identity without Derrick Henry and things will get better with Brown and Jones back on the field. Until then, the Titans need to run the ball more. There is no reason Tannehill should be throwing it 52 times in a game.

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9. Indianapolis Colts: 6-5 (Last Week: 14)
Won 41-15 at Buffalo
Wow. The Colts picking up a road win against a talented Bills team felt unlikely heading into the weekend. Far from impossible, but certainly not expected, evidenced by the Bills being seven-point favorites. I’m sure some felt good about Indy’s chances of scoring the upset, but I don’t think anyone anticipated it going like this. Jonathan Taylor ripped off five touchdowns in an otherworldly performance. That will certainly grab headlines, and rightfully so, but the defense deserves some praise. They forced four turnovers, setting up the offense with a short field on several occasions. A huge showdown with the Buccaneers awaits.

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10. Baltimore Ravens: 7-3 (Last Week: 10)
Won 16-13 at Chicago
Another ugly game for the Ravens, but this one went in their favor. With no Lamar Jackson, who missed out due to illness, Tyler Huntley made his first career start. He played like you would expect, holding the ball too long and trying to make a lot of plays with his legs. Thankfully, the defense stepped up, knocking Justin Fields out of the game and doing just enough to slow down Andy Dalton. This is obviously not how John Harbaugh will want to play consistently, but winning without your starting quarterback is always an accomplishment.

11. Los Angeles Chargers: 6-4 (Last Week: 11)
Won 41-37 vs. Pittsburgh
I wasn’t expecting a shootout, but that’s what we got on Sunday night. Los Angeles’ defense played one of its worst games of the season, blowing a 17-point second-half lead, actually allowing Pittsburgh to take a late lead. Thankfully, Justin Herbert was up to the challenge, amassing 382 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air while picking up another 90 yards rushing. Austin Ekeler did his part too with four scores and 115 yards from scrimmage. The Chargers will be happy to pick up the win and see their offense in top form, but it would be nice to see the defense handle a very one-dimensional offense better.

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12. Buffalo Bills: 6-4 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 41-15 vs. Indianapolis
It might be time to panic in Buffalo. The Bills have now lost two of their past three. That’s not usually a huge concern, but when they come against the Jaguars and by 26 at home to the Colts, that’s a different story. So far this season, Buffalo has only beaten one team with a winning record. A lack of a consistent run game is hurting the offense while the defense this week simply had no answer for Jonathan Taylor. There isn’t much time to figure things out as the Bills face the Saints on Thanksgiving night.

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13. Minnesota Vikings: 5-5 (Last Week: 15)
Won 34-31 vs. Green Bay
The outlook for the Vikings is very different now than it was two weeks ago. Minnesota took down Green Bay behind a big day from Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins. It was a game where the Vikings simply needed to keep scoring as the Packers offense showed no signs of slowing down. Minnesota won because it had the ball last, but after being on the wrong side of so many of these results, it was due for a bit of good luck.

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14. Cincinnati Bengals: 6-4 (Last Week: 17)
Won 32-13 at Las Vegas
Coming off a bye and heading on the road, Cincinnati took care of business. Given the high score, you might think Joe Burrow went off, but it was the ground game that really shined. Joe Mixon had his most rushing yards since Week 1 as the Bengals dominated the time of possession. It also helped that the defense came up with a pair of turnovers. A rematch with the Steelers is next.

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15. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-4-1 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 41-37 at Los Angeles
Ben Roethlisberger turned back the clocks and put together a vintage performance. 273 passing yards and three touchdowns to go with no turnovers kept the Steelers in the game despite an uncharacteristically poor night from their defense. For as good as Roethlisberger played, Justin Herbert was even better. He had 472 yards of offense and three touchdowns. Austin Ekeler accounted for four scores as well. All is not lost for Pittsburgh, but the defense will need to play a lot better against the Bengals.

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16. Cleveland Browns 6-5 (Last Week: 16)
Won 13-7 vs. Detroit
Cleveland looks broken. Baker Mayfield is struggling to play through a litany of injuries and looked awful against the Lions. Unfortunately, the injuries keep building for the Browns, as Jarvis Landry joins the walking wounded. Thankfully, the hapless Lions, led by Tim Boyle with Jared Goff out, did not offer much of a challenge. Other than a 57-yard scamper from D’Andre Swift, Cleveland’s defense played extremely well. There is a chance the Browns can keep winning on the back of Nick Chubb, especially with Kareem Hunt set to play in Week 12, but this team desperately needs a week off. That won’t come until after a meeting with the Ravens.

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17. Philadelphia Eagles: 5-6 (Last Week: 19)
Won 40-29 vs. New Orleans
Quietly, the Eagles are in the mix for a wildcard spot in the NFC. Jalen Hurts is impressing as a run-first quarterback and the defense continues to come up with big plays. Darius Slay celebrated another touchdown, which was a huge momentum shift heading into halftime. Controlling the clock and limiting big plays on defense is a winning formula. An important divisional game against the Giants is on the docket.

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18. New Orleans Saints: 5-5 (Last Week: 12)
Lost 40-29 at Philadelphia
Once again, why is Trevor Siemian starting over Taysom Hill? Hill just signed a big contract extension and Siemian is not playing very well, yet Hill continues to ride the bench. It is truly a baffling situation considering that Hill has spent his whole career in New Orleans while Siemian spent the 2020 season on the Titans practice squad. Two more interceptions from Siemian and another disappointing performance from the Saints defense led to a third straight loss. These are missed opportunities in winnable games for New Orleans.

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19. San Francisco 49ers: 5-5 (Last Week: 20)
Won 30-10 at Jacksonville
This is a very important win for the 49ers. San Francisco was widely expected to win, but just ask Buffalo what happens when you roll into Jacksonville unprepared. Coming off a big win on Monday Night Football against a division rival, this game had the potential for an emotional let down. Instead, Jimmy Garoppolo played efficiently, taking care of the football, while Deebo Samuel starred as a runner. He accounted for 79 of the 49ers’ 171 yards on the ground. They face a red-hot Vikings team in Week 12.

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20. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-5 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 32-13 vs. Cincinnati
Talk about a gut punch. Las Vegas came out flat and never got a chance to get going offensively. The defense could not get off the field either as Cincinnati ran the ball early and often. The 47 plays the Raiders ran offensively were a season-low. Penalties and turnovers were the final nail in Vegas’ coffin. Three straight losses for the Raiders changes the outlook as the focus shifts from winning the AFC West to just trying to stay in the playoff race.

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21. Carolina Panthers: 5-6 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 27-21 vs. Washington
Not quite the homecoming he had hoped for. Ron Rivera and Taylor Heinicke spoiled Cam Newton’s return to Carolina. Newton played well with three total touchdowns, but could not lead a game-winning drive with his team trailing by six. It is the defense that really deserves the scrutiny, surrendering 190 yards on the ground and failing to rattle Heinicke. For a unit that made a big deal out of being the No. 2 defense in the league, this was a disappointing showing. This is a setback, but Carolina will get a chance to bounce back in Miami.

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22. Denver Broncos: 5-5 (Last Week: 22)
Bye Week
Denver had a very busy bye week, signing Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick to contract extensions. It was a wise move by the team as both players have had solid seasons despite inconsistent quarterback play. While that helps them in the long term, the Broncos need a boost in the short term. Their upcoming schedule includes matchups with the Chargers and Chiefs. That could very well decide their season. Being 7-5 and 2-1 in the division is very different from being 5-7 with no divisional wins.

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23. Miami Dolphins: 4-7 (Last Week: 26)
Won 24-17 at New York
Certainly not as impressive a performance as shutting down Lamar Jackson, this was an important win for the Dolphins as they look to continue their mid-season turnaround. Tua Tagovailoa put together a strong stat line, with 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It might have been against the worst pass defense in the league, but it gives the ‘Fins young quarterback a platform to build on. Three straight wins are great, but Miami has a much tougher test against Carolina coming up.

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24. Washington: 4-6 (Last Week: 27)
Won 27-21 at Carolina
Is Washington gearing up to run the table? It seems unlikely, but so did beating the Buccaneers and Panthers in back-to-back weeks. Reinforcements should be on the way too with Logan Thomas in line to return in Week 12. Taylor Heinicke played some of his best football of the season while he got a huge boost from his run game. Washington ran it a whopping 40 times for 190 yards. Given how the Seahawks have been playing of late, a third-straight win feels within reach.

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25. New York Giants: 3-7 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 30-10 at Tampa Bay
There was a brief moment where the Giants seemed like they were going to hang tough with the Buccaneers. Adoree’ Jackson’s interception set New York up inside the 10-yard line. Daniel Jones flipped a pass to Andrew Thomas of all the possible receivers he could have hit. Things went way downhill from there. Despite Jones getting hammered for most of the night, Tampa hit him nine times, Jason Garrett did not run the ball much. 13 rushes as a team is not good enough, especially with the Bucs teeing off in the pass rush. There are a lot of jobs on the line down the stretch in New York.

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26. Atlanta Falcons: 4-6 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 25-0 at New England
Welcome to rock bottom. It is a wonder the Falcons have four wins this season with how inconsistent this offense has been this year. Atlanta has lost three of four, lowlighted by back-to-back losses where it managed three points combined. In truth, pretty much this entire offense is not performing well. Matt Ryan has struggled, but his protection is poor and the surrounding skill position players are underwhelming. New England limited Kyle Pitts and Ryan really had nowhere else to go with the ball. Considering he was playing with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley this time last year, it is easy to point to where things went wrong.

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27. Seattle Seahawks: 3-7 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 23-13 vs. Arizona
We are hurtling toward a massive shake up in Seattle this offseason. Pete Carroll seems to be losing his touch, Russell Wilson is almost definitely going to want out and the defense is simply not championship caliber. Wilson’s return has done next to nothing to move the needle on offense. He is likely not at 100% with his finger, but getting outplayed by Colt McCoy is embarrassing. Keep in mind, this game was in Seattle. The Seahawks’ playoff hopes are on life support. Monday Night Football in Washington feels like a must-win.

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28. Chicago Bears: 3-7 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 16-13 vs. Baltimore
It is easy to point to losing Justin Fields as the reason the Bears lost, but in truth, the offense fared better with Andy Dalton under center. There were no excuses either with Baltimore in a similar boat as Tyler Huntley made his first career start. In the end, Chicago’s anemic offense is to blame. Matt Nagy’s job security has to be at an all-time low.

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29. Houston Texans: 2-7 (Last Week: 31)
Won 22-13 at Tennessee
Tyrod Taylor does it again! The Texans quarterback looked much better in his second week back from injury. Two rushing touchdowns led the way for the offense that did not really produce much else. Thankfully, they didn’t need to. Houston’s defense was on another level, picking off Ryan Tannehill four times and adding a fumble for five forced turnovers on the afternoon. Obviously, that is an unsustainable rate, but ball security and opportunistic defense is always a recipe for success.

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30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-8 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 30-10 vs. San Francisco
Losing this year is not really a concern for the Jaguars. They are supposed to be bad with a rookie quarterback and a first-time NFL head coach. However, there are a few red flags. This was Trevor Lawrence’s third game in a row without a touchdown. His development is the only benchmark for success that this season should be measured by. He hasn’t had much help either with a defense lacking playmakers outside of Josh Allen and a run game that sputtered to 54 yards on the ground. Every team has growing pains, but it would be nice to see growth instead of just pain.

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31. New York Jets: 2-8 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 24-17 vs. Miami
I guess this was an improved performance. The defense is still not playing well, but 24 points is the fewest New York has allowed since Week 1. There are a few reasons for optimism though. Elijah Moore continues to ball out, totaling 156 yards of offense and a long touchdown to get the Jets back into the game. Despite the injury, Michael Carter also seems like a dynamic dual threat back. New York should get Mekhi Becton and Zach Wilson back soon as well. It will be interesting to see if the young talent on this offense can grow together over the final seven games.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-9-1 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 13-7 at Cleveland
Good news. Jared Goff is not as bad as you thought! Tim Boyle is significantly worse. Without D’Andre Swift, this would’ve been one of the worst offensive performances in recent memory. On the bright side, the defense played fairly well, limiting the Browns to just two scoring drives. Just keep scouting the top players in the 2022 draft and have fun rooting for the Rams to fail so you get a better draft pick.

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NFL Midseason All-Rookie Team: Mac Jones, Creed Humphrey, Micah Parsons and Nate Hobbs lead first-year standouts

So often, we spent an entire year, if not multiple years, scouting players as they prepare to enter the NFL. Then, we seem to lose track of them unless they are quarterbacks or top-tier performers. I know I am very guilty of this.

This year, I wanted to take a little extra time to appreciate the rookies who have performed well out of the gate. I know we are a bit past the midseason point, but there is still a lot of football left to be played, so this team is bound to look very different by the time we reach early January.

Here is my all-rookie team through 10 weeks of NFL action.

QB – Mac Jones, Patriots
This is a no-brainer. Jones has unquestionably been the best rookie quarterback of the bunch so far. Through 10 games, he has over 2,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. Trevor Lawrence has the second-most touchdown passes with eight. Jones’ completion percentage is significantly higher than all other rookie passers as well. He is in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

RB – Elijah Mitchell, 49ers
While Najee Harris has the gaudy usage numbers, Elijah Mitchell has been much more efficient this year. Perhaps that is because he has a much better line, but Mitchell has been one of the fun surprises from this draft class. He is averaging 90 yards from scrimmage per game on a healthy 4.7 yards per carry. Mitchell is in line for a solid second half.

RB – Najee Harris, Steelers
While Harris has had some ugly games this year, evidenced by his 3.7 yards per carry on the season, he is a workhorse for the Steelers. He leads all rookies in rushing yards and actually ranks second in receptions, trailing only Jaylen Waddle. It would be nice to see him be a bit more efficient as a runner, but much of that comes to running behind a poor offensive line.

WR – Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals
Chase has lit up the NFL so far. He ranks fourth in receiving yards per game and tied fifth for touchdown receptions this season among all receivers. He also has 229 more yards than the next rookie in this class. His big-play ability is unrivaled so far and he has to be the front runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

WR – Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins
While he has not been the deep threat that Chase has proven to be so far, Waddle is the main fixture in Miami’s offense. He has 60 receptions this season, by far the most of any rookie and sixth-most for any player in the league this year. If the Dolphins have some more consistent quarterback play in the second half, Waddle should see some of those yardage totals increase.

TE – Kyle Pitts, Falcons
While the scoring plays have not been there, Pitts is still making a large impact. He trails only Ja’Marr Chase for the most receiving yards among rookies. He has unquestionably benefited from increased volume with Calvin Ridley out for the Falcons. It is only a matter of time before Pitts starts to figure things out in the red zone and adds to his one touchdown on the season.

OT – Rashawn Slater, Chargers
Physically dominant barely begins to describe Slater this season. He is the third-highest rated rookie by PFF, posting a dominant 82.2 grade. He has only allowed two sacks this season and continues to shine as a run blocker. He honestly deserves some rookie of the year consideration.

G – Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets
In the midst of a rough season for the Jets, Vera-Tucker has been a bright light. He has only allowed one sack in 617 snaps this season. He is a bit uneven as a run blocker, but has shown flashes of truly dominant play. The upside he has displayed with his movement skills and instincts is impressive.

C – Creed Humphrey, Chiefs
One of my favorite offensive linemen in this past draft, Humphrey has slotted in nicely as a Day 1 starter for the Chiefs. He honestly deserves some consideration for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He is PFF’s top-ranked center through 10 weeks of play. That’s every center in the NFL, not just rookies. Bradley Bozeman is the only center in the league with a higher pass-block win rate at this point. It is obviously early, but it looks like Kansas City landed a steal. 

G – Trey Smith, Chiefs
If Creed Humphrey was a home run, I don’t even know what that makes Smith. A fifth-round pick out of Tennessee, he has taken the league by storm. Ranking sixth in both pass-block and run-block win rate, Smith is proving that he has what it takes to compete in the NFL at a high level. PFF credits him with four sacks allowed, so there is clearly still room for improvement, but he is off to a hot start.

OT – Penei Sewell, Lions
Finding another tackle across from Slater proved to actually be difficult. Had Samuel Cosmi stayed healthy, this likely would have been his spot. Instead, I will go with Sewell. He has been fine so far, definitely a bit uneven in his play, but that should be expected from one of the youngest prospects in the draft. He has now started on both sides of the line with Taylor Decker returning to action, dominating in his first start at right tackle. Sewell is showing the versatility needed to thrive in the NFL.

DL – Osa Odighizuwa, Cowboys
While Micah Parsons has, deservedly, gotten most of the press clippings this year, Odigizuwa has had a solid start to his NFL career. He is providing some interior pass rushing for the Cowboys on a defense that desperately lacked it. With nine QB hits and a pair of sacks so far this season, he is making his presence known. However, he definitely still has room for improvement as a tackler.

DL – Christian Barmore, Patriots
While it is clear Barmore is still finding his footing, there is no question he has been one of the most impactful interior rookie linemen so far this year. He is tough to move and shows the occasional flash of pass rushing prowess. Putting it all together on a more consistent basis is key, but Barmore seems to be getting better as the year rolls on.

DL – Kwity Paye, Colts
If you haven’t watched Paye play much this year and just look at the one sack he has recorded, you might question his inclusion. But if you have watched his explosive play off the edge, particularly in recent weeks, it is clear to see he is going to be a problem in the league. He is clearly still trying to figure out how to excel as a pass rusher at this level, but his physical tools have been on full display and he should continue to be disruptive.

LB – Azeez Ojulari, Giants
In what proved to be a very weak class for edge rushers, it is hard to find too many players that have stood out. While it has been a little bit of feast or famine for Ojulari, he is second in the draft class with 5.5 sacks so far this season. What’s more is he is getting on the field, a lot. He has played at least 50 percent of New York’s defensive snaps in every game this season.

LB – Micah Parsons, Cowboys
The top dog in the race to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, Parsons has done a little bit of everything this year. He has earned the most plaudits for his scary ability as a pass rusher. He leads all rookies with six sacks on the season. What makes Parsons a lock for this list though is his versatility. He can play on the edge with his hand in the dirt, or he can drop back and play as an off-ball linebacker. That makes it really difficult to account for his whereabouts on a play-to-play basis.

LB – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Browns
A surprising slide on draft day saw Owusu-Koramoah slip into the second round. The Browns have greatly benefited from his fall. JOK was ramping up into a large role within Cleveland’s defense before missing a pair of games. Now, it seems the coaching staff wants to work him back in slowly, make no mistake though, when he is on the field, he is a difference maker. 

LB – Odafe Oweh, Ravens
You knew this was going to happen. The supremely athletic edge rusher that everyone knocked for his lack of college production has flourished with the Ravens. He has four sacks already in his rookie season, trailing only Parsons and Ojulari among first-year players. Add in 11 quarterback hits and a steady presence on the field, and you have one of the top rookies in the league.

CB – Nate Hobbs, Raiders
Most of the players on this list are first- or second-round picks that I was very familiar with by draft day. Even Trey Smith and Elijah Mitchell were more widely known because of their participation in the Senior Bowl. Hobbs was notably left off the Senior Bowl roster, and yet has been one of the top cover corners in the league this season. He came back down to Earth a bit when Patrick Mahomes picked on him in Week 10, but has been one of the league’s stingiest corners on a yards allowed per completion basis.

S – Jevon Holland, Dolphins
I remember a time where Jevon Holland was regarded as a lock to be a first-round pick. It is looking more and more like that should have been the case. I know, I know, it is way too early to make those conclusions, but Holland has been one of the most dynamic rookies on the defensive side of the ball this year. He is excellent as a pass rusher and has no problem laying the wood. There is unquestionably room for improvement in coverage, but he is best used down in the box, wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. 

S – Trevon Moehrig, Raiders
Man, the Raiders really hit it out of the park with defensive backs in 2021. Early returns from Moehrig might not be quite on the same level as Hobbs, but he has been a valuable member of Las Vegas’ defensive backfield. He is the opposite of Holland, excelling in coverage, especially as a deep centerfielder. He has only missed a few snaps this whole season and even has an interception to his name.

CB – Patrick Surtain II, Broncos
While he hasn’t quite reached lockdown corner status yet, Surtain is off to a strong start to his career. Opposing teams have gone after him a few times, but Surtain has largely held his own. The three touchdowns given up aren’t great, but he is one of just seven starting corners to allow fewer than 50 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed. What’s more is he has seen the eighth-most targets of any defensive player this year. He is under fire a lot, but he has won more than he has lost this season.

2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 11

Welcome to the NFL’s new normal. Top teams are upset on a weekly basis, Hall of Fame quarterbacks crumble against mediocre defenses, and no one has any idea who is good and who is bad. In a word, the NFL has achieved parity. Every week, chaos is bound to wash over the NFL, sending a shockwave through these power rankings.

Just a quick recap, the Eagles coasted past the Broncos, who beat the Cowboys last week. Meanwhile, the Cowboys shelled the Falcons, who topped the Saints a week ago. Two weeks ago, the Saints beat the Buccaneers, who have now lost two straight after a truly stunning defeat in D.C. Add in the new-look Rams falling flat against the previously downtrodden 49ers and you have a pretty clear picture of the mess that is the NFL right now. Even the teams that are 8-2 have some pretty clear question marks.

With all of that in mind, here is my best attempt at ranking the league’s teams.

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1. Green Bay Packers: 8-2 (Last Week: 1)
Won 17-0 vs. Seattle
Defense wins championships and it seems like the Packers defense is rounding into form. Russell Wilson was clearly shaking off some rust, but he had never been shutout before Sunday. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers made his return to the field and didn’t look great. He had no touchdowns and an interceptions. A.J. Dillon plunged in for a pair of short-yardage touchdown runs to seal an important victory. Even with Aaron Jones set to miss a week or two, the Packers should be in good shape to keep winning with a strong defense and reliable run game.

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2. Tennessee Titans: 8-2 (Last Week: 4)
Won 23-21 vs. New Orleans
Is Tennessee really the second-best team in the league? Honestly, I don’t know. They sit at 8-2, but these two wins without Derrick Henry have been anything but convincing. The Titans got a bit of help from the refs with a questionable roughing the passer call and the Saints nearly tied the game in the closing minutes. In the end, the defense made a few big plays when the game was on the line. Mike Vrabel has built a gritty team. It doesn’t have to be pretty if they just keep winning.

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3. Dallas Cowboys: 7-2 (Last Week: 6)
Won 43-3 vs. Atlanta
Talk about bouncing back. Dallas put a horrendous offensive performance in its rearview mirror with a thrashing of Atlanta. The Cowboys led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, then outscored the Falcons 29-0 in the second quarter to put the game to bed. Dak Prescott played efficiently and the defense played lights out, holding Atlanta to just 214 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers. As of right now, the loss against Denver looks like an anomaly, but they can’t afford too many more duds like that.

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4. Arizona Cardinals: 8-2 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 34-10 vs. Carolina
There is only so much magic the Cardinals can work with a depleted offense. The combination of Colt McCoy and Chris Streveler totaled 143 passing yards to go with an interception and four sacks. Defensively, the Cardinals had no answer for Christian McCaffrey, who finished with 161 yards of offense. This is one that you can probably just throw out when evaluating Arizona, but the offensive line still struggled against an elite defense. That is a red flag.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-3 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 29-19 at Washington
Tampa Bay fell flat once again, this time coming off their bye week. Tom Brady played his worst game of the season and the Buccaneers defense got pushed around all afternoon. While Brady’s two first-quarter interceptions made life difficult, the bigger issue was definitely the defense’s inability to get off the field. Washington held the ball for 39 minutes of game play, leaving the Bucs with very little opportunity to get into a rhythm. Tampa’s 47 plays were easily the fewest they have run all season. Bruce Arians has some serious work to do in order get this club back on track.

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6. New England Patriots: 6-4 (Last Week: 8)
Won 45-7 vs. Cleveland
Oh no. The Patriots are back. Maybe not to the high-flying days of Tom Brady leading the league’s No. 1 offense, but this New England side is starting to resemble those early 2000s teams that won three Super Bowls in a four-year span. I’m not saying the Pats are going to win a title this year, but smashing the Browns definitely underlines this team’s potential. I know they have lost four games this season, but three of those four came by six points or fewer. With four straight wins, Bill Belichick has this team trending in the right direction.

7. Los Angeles Rams: 7-3 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 31-10 at San Francisco
You can take the quarterback out of Detroit, but you can’t take the Detroit out of the quarterback. Matt Stafford continues to come up well short in big moments for the Rams. For the second straight week, Los Angeles got whipped in primetime as their big offseason acquisition floundered. This week though, he might have an excuse. His receivers could not catch anything on Monday night. Stafford’s second interception went right through the hands of Tyler Higbee. Without any semblance of a running game and a defense that could not stop a nosebleed, much less Elijah Mitchell, L.A. looked completely overmatched. Sean McVay has a lot of questions to answer on the other side of their bye week.

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8. Buffalo Bills: 6-3 (Last Week: 9)
Won 45-17 at New York
Buffalo clearly did not dwell on its stunning Week 9 loss to the Jaguars. The Bills jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. They led 38-3 heading into the fourth quarter. Josh Allen played well and got plenty of help from the ground game. Four different players recorded a rushing touchdown in this one. Similarly, four different defensive players intercepted Mike White in a dominant performance. Buffalo clearly showed that its floor is very low, but this was a good reminder that they also have a very high ceiling.

Chiefs Logo

9. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-4 (Last Week: 14)
Won 41-14 at Las Vegas
It is important not to overreact after just one game on the heels of about a month of lackluster play, but we saw the Patrick Mahomes of old on Sunday night. He shredded the Raiders secondary for 406 yards and five touchdowns in a resurgent performance. What’s more, Kansas City ran the ball enough to keep Las Vegas honest. The Chiefs averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, so there is room for improvement, but this was a good sign of things to come. Kansas City cannot afford a let down though with Dallas up next.

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10. Baltimore Ravens: 6-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 22-10 at Miami
Goodness this was ugly. Miami bottled up Lamar Jackson as the offense spun its wheels all night long. The Ravens could not adjust to the consistent pressure Brian Flores sent throughout the game. Defensively, Baltimore held Jacoby Brissett in check, but gave up way too many big plays in big moments. With the Browns losing and the Steelers tying this week, this would have been a huge opportunity for the Ravens to build some separation in the division. Instead, Baltimore must rethink its offensive approach against blitz-heavy defenses.

11. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-4 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 27-20 vs. Minnesota
Reminder: the Chargers are a young team and there are going to be some growing pains. Justin Herbert turned in an uneven performance, with a touchdown, an interception and just 195 yards passing. Defensively, Kirk Cousins generally had his way with the secondary and Minnesota chewed up clock on the ground. This loss does not undo wins over the Chiefs or Browns, but Los Angeles is clearly not a true Super Bowl contender yet.

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12. New Orleans Saints: 5-4 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 23-21 at Tennessee
Question time. Why is Trevor Siemian starting for the Saints? Taysom Hill went 3-1 as a spot starter for New Orleans when Drew Brees got hurt, in ahead of Jameis Winston. Now, Hill is back to his gadget player role, despite receiving a monster extension this offseason. I understand it was primarily for salary cap purposes, but it still makes me wonder what has changed since last year. Considering this loss came by two points on the road against a good team while the Saints were missing their best player, the sky is not falling. However, after two straight losses, it is fair to wonder if a change at quarterback is necessary.

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13. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-3-1 (Last Week: 12)
Tied 16-16 vs. Detroit
If nothing else, we learned that Mason Rudolph is not the Steelers quarterback of the future. He managed a meager 4.8 yards per attempt and finished with a QBR of 36.7. There is plenty of blame to go around though, as Pittsburgh coughed up two fumbles in overtime to halt two potential game-winning drives. Meanwhile, the defense gave up 229 yards rushing. All the way around, it is a wonder the Steelers did not lose this game. They desperately need Ben Roethlisberger back in Week 11.

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14. Indianapolis Colts: 5-5 (Last Week: 17)
Won 23-17 vs. Jacksonville
Perhaps we should just chalk this up to divisional games being difficult. However, the Colts did not play well and let the Jaguars hang around way too long in this one. Carson Wentz was pedestrian at best and no one other than Jonathan Taylor really produced much. If not for a special teams touchdown early in this game on a blocked punt, there is a good chance Indianapolis loses this game. Like I said, divisional games are wonky and often lead to unexpected results. Hopefully, the Colts can raise their play because a visit to Buffalo is up next.

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15. Minnesota Vikings: 4-5 (Last Week: 19)
Won 27-20 at Los Angeles
At long last, Minnesota built a late lead and hung onto it. Kirk Cousins aired it out and Dalvin Cook put in a ton of work. The defense deserves a ton of credit for making life difficult on Justin Herbert, sacking him twice and intercepting him. Controlling the clock on offense and limiting big plays on defense is a winning formula for this side.

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16. Cleveland Browns 5-5 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 45-7 at New England
What to make of the Browns? On the heels of a blowout win against Cincinnati, Cleveland drove right down the field for an opening-drive touchdown. Then, the Browns surrendered 45 unanswered points as Baker Mayfield struggled mightily before exiting with a knee injury. D’Ernest Johnson did his best to carry the load, racking up 157 yards of offense, but Cleveland looked lifeless on both sides of the ball. The sign of a great team is consistency, which goes a long way towards explaining the Browns’ 5-5 record. This team cannot string together performances right now.

Bengals Logo

17. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-4 (Last Week: 16)
Bye Week
It was a good week for the Bengals. The Ravens, Browns and Steelers all did not win. Now Cincinnati needs to take advantage. Joe Burrow and company have flashed the potential to be one of the best teams in the AFC, but are coming off back-to-back losses to the Jets and Browns. With a bye week to regroup, the Bengals now have a chance to prove they are a legitimate playoff team and not just another middle-of-the-road side.

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18. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-4 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 41-14 vs. Kansas City
It seems like the on-going circus around the Raiders has finally caught up with them on the field. First, Jon Gruden was fired (technically, he resigned, but let’s read between the lines) for some horrible emails containing racist, homophobic and misogynistic language. Then, Henry Ruggs was arrested after killing someone while driving drunk, going 156 miles per hour with a loaded gun in the car. Most recently, Damon Arnette was released following a series of social media posts containing death threats while he brandished firearms. And that was all before they went into a rivalry game with the Chiefs. Needless to say, Las Vegas fell flat. Patrick Mahomes pulled apart the Raiders secondary and the offense did not score after halftime. Rich Bisaccia has a tough task ahead of him.

Eagles Logo

19. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-6 (Last Week: 22)
Won 30-13 at Denver
Philadelphia put together a complete game as it ran all over Denver’s defense. The Eagles racked up 214 yards on 40 carries and got stronger as the game went on. With the game tied at 10 midway through the second quarter, Philly outscored Denver 20-3 the rest of the way. Given how much chaos has occurred in the NFL this season, the Eagles are just one game back of a playoff spot. They will face another wildcard contender in Week 11 as the Saints come to town.

49ers Logo

20. San Francisco 49ers: 4-5 (Last Week: 25)
Won 31-10 vs. Los Angeles
Kyle Shanahan clearly has Sean McVay’s number. San Francisco has notched five straight wins over Los Angeles, with Monday’s being the most impressive, and perhaps important, yet. The 49ers ran the ball 44 times to amass a time of possession of over 39 minutes. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford never looked comfortable and the Rams could not hold onto the ball. Two early interceptions, including a pick-six, coupled with an 11-minute scoring drive set the tone for the game. L.A. never recovered. San Francisco will have a chance to build on this win in Jacksonville.

Panthers logo

21. Carolina Panthers: 5-5 (Last Week: 24)
Won 34-10 at Arizona
Even though he did not start, there is no doubt Cam Newton provided a huge emotional boost for the Panthers. Super Cam scored on his first two offensive snaps in his return to Carolina. The defense certainly benefited from facing Colt McCoy instead of Kyler Murray, but still impressed nonetheless. The Panthers tallied four total sacks and only allowed 169 yards of offense. It was the type of stifling performance that makes you think that Carolina could be a real problem down the stretch if Newton can get into form and provide some kind of stability on offense.

Denver_Broncos

22. Denver Broncos: 5-5 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 30-13 vs. Philadelphia
Denver followed up an impressive road win over the Cowboys with a lopsided home loss to the Eagles. Make it make sense. The biggest difference was the run game. After allowing just 78 yards to Dallas, Philadelphia rumbled for 214 yards on the ground. After falling behind, the Broncos could not continue to run consistently, which is where they found a decent amount of success earlier in the game. Still at .500 and only a game back in the AFC West, Denver is in the mix, but results like this make it hard to believe in the long-term potential.

Giants Logo

23. New York Giants: 3-6 (Last Week: 21)
Bye Week
This was a tough week for the Giants. Not because of anything they did. Hopefully, they finally got healthy. Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay and more have missed enough time already. No, unfortunately, every other team in the NFC East won, which pushes New York back into the divisional basement. Joe Judge and Daniel Jones have a lot to prove in the second half of the season.

Falcons logo

24. Atlanta Falcons: 4-5 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 43-3 at Dallas
Last week, I said that Matt Ryan was putting together a Jekyll and Hyde type season. He turned it up a notch in Week 10. After an impressive win over the Saints in which he had 343 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Ryan went 9-for-21 passing for 121 yards and two interceptions. He was pulled late in the third quarter with the team trailing by 40. Atlanta is still just a half game back of the Panthers for the NFC’s final wildcard spot at the moment, but it is hard to think of this group as a playoff team.

Seahawks logo

25. Seattle Seahawks: 3-6 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 17-0 at Green Bay
So, Russell Wilson didn’t exactly fix the offense. The veteran quarterback struggled mightily, finishing 20-of-40 throwing for 161 yards and two interceptions. He simply did not look sharp, nor did he have much time to throw. Green Bay hit him five times, including three sacks. On the bright side, the defense limited Aaron Rodgers and kept Seattle in the game until late on. Unfortunately, things will not get much easier with the Cardinals up next.

Dolphins logo

26. Miami Dolphins: 3-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 22-10 vs. Baltimore
Don’t look now, but the Dolphins are on a win streak. Brian Flores blitzed the hell out of Lamar Jackson, mostly from his secondary, holding the former MVP in check. In fact, this has to go down as one of the most impressive defensive performances of his tenure. However, questions must be asked of Flores’ handling of his quarterbacks. Tua Tagovailoa was deemed injured and unable to start the game. Yet, he was active as a backup. Jacoby Brissett exited with an injury, thrusting Tagovailoa into the game. Brissett never returned despite being cleared to play. So if Tagovailoa was too hurt to start, why was he left in when Brissett was able to come back? Miami’s quarterback situation continues to be an enigma.

Washington made up logo

27. Washington: 3-6 (Last Week: 29)
Won 29-19 vs. Tampa Bay
Add the Washington Football Team to the list of teams that act as kryptonite to Tom Brady. Washington intercepted the future Hall of Famer twice in the first quarter to build an early lead. However, the real key was a 10-plus minute touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Washington remained committed to the run despite only managing 2.8 yards per carry. Now, Ron Rivera must prepare for an emotional reunion with his former team in Cam Newton’s first home game since returning to the Panthers.

Bears logo

28. Chicago Bears: 3-6 (Last Week: 26)
Bye Week
Maybe a week off will allow Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor to finally build an offense that suits Justin Fields’ skill set. The rookie quarterback has had the typical ups and downs that come with the transition to the NFL. However, the Bears have been unable to unlock their best offensive player in Allen Robinson and often leave Fields in tough situations. Chicago’s defense is usually good enough to win games. If the offense can find a bit more consistency, the Bears could be a factor down the stretch.

Jaguars logo

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-7 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 23-17 vs. Indianapolis
Jacksonville nearly followed up one upset with another. Trevor Lawrence was strip-sacked after making it into Colts territory on the team’s final drive, ending hopes of another massive win, but there are some positives to take away. The defense seems to have taken a much-needed step forward. Carson Wentz did not find much success through the air, but ultimately, the Jaguars could not slow down Jonathan Taylor. Now, if Urban Meyer could find a way to help Lawrence develop, Jacksonville would be in a good place.

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30. New York Jets: 2-7 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 45-17 vs. Buffalo
It is ridiculous to think about, but how warm is Robert Saleh’s seat getting right now? New York’s defense has been almost unprecedentedly bad, allowing 417 yards per game and just shy of 33 points per game, both the worst marks in the league. Saleh was formerly the defensive coordinator for the 49ers, so this was supposed to be his forte. I don’t expect the Jets to fire him after just one season, but it would be good for the unit to show progress in the second half of the year.

Texans logo

31. Houston Texans: 1-7 (Last Week: 31)
Bye Week
Houston largely sat out the trade deadline and now sits at 1-7. An extra week to get Tyrod Taylor back to full health likely bodes well for the offense. With very little expectation and already having won a game to avoid the dreaded winless season, there really does not seem to be much to play for in Houston.

Lions Logo

32. Detroit Lions: 0-8-1 (Last Week: 32)
Tied 16-16 at Pittsburgh
This might be the most Lions way to break a 12-game losing streak: an ugly tie in a game where Detroit probably should have won, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. Jared Goff is clearly not the quarterback of the future, but with a mediocre quarterback class coming up, how the Lions address the position will be interesting. Dan Campbell has this team competing hard, but at some point, that is not going to be enough any more.

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